Soldier visits 'cookie ladies' after new assignment
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - While stationed in Afghanistan, Capt. Nathan Ferguson had limited access to affordable daily essentials such as shaving cream. And when it came to finding sweet treats, well, that just wasn't an option.
One day, Capt. Ferguson was offered some cookies, and not just any cookies, homemade cookies from the U.S. - Vero Beach, to be exact. To share his appreciation, he emailed the senders, the "cookie ladies" of Vero Beach.
The cookie ladies of Vero Beach send dozens of boxes of cookies to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq every month, sometimes not even knowing who will receive them, said founder Rose Tufano.
"It's been four years since we started and we haven't missed a month," Ms. Tufano said.
Originally from Titusville, Capt. Ferguson and his family were delighted to transfer to Patrick Air Force Base, and after a few more emails, decided to make a trip down south last week to visit the cookie ladies.
"It's nice to hear from people caring and sending stuff like that," said Capt. Ferguson.
The cookie-baking and packing volunteers currently meet at the Vero Beach Elks Lodge 1774. The captain, his wife, Lisa, and two young daughters, Ava and Anna, joined more than a baker's dozen of cookie volunteers for dinner last Friday. They were joined by many members of the lodge who were glad to meet a military family who had sacrificed for their service.
Ms. Tufano said several soldiers have emailed their thanks to the volunteers, and a small handful have graciously agreed to meet in Vero Beach.
"When they tell us about the war, we are really overwhelmed by it, but it's a real thrill to meet them," Ms. Tufano said.
Sisters Kathleen Reynolds and Loretta Allen are among the volunteers who bake and package the cookies each month.
"I make chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. Everyone says they are something else," said Ms. Allen.
"When you bake the cookies, you always wonder who is going to get them," said Ms. Reynolds, whose specialty is molasses chocolate chip cookies.
"When we meet them, we get to put a face onto that," she said.
Ms. Tufano said she hopes when soldiers receive their small taste of home, they receive encouragement and some joy that people are remembering them back home.
The Vero Beach cookie ladies (and men, too) meet to package the cookies on the third Thursday of each month. Donations of cookies or money to mail the boxes are always welcome, Ms. Tufano said.
For more information, email Ms. Tufano at firstname.lastname@example.org.